Media & Culture

Amoral Politics: The War on Drugs

war-on-drugs-bannerweb

Do you have morals? Are you a controversy? There’s a bomb on a bus – once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed; if it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do?

You may have noticed that in the past few decades, the unnecessary fraternising between morality and politics has caused issues such as gay marriage, drug use and abortion to be increasingly politically divisive; wedge issues which serve to create solid voting blocs and neatly carve up the electorate. A functional democracy requires three fundamental imperatives: the basic security of the State, and the preservation of both liberty and individualism. The purpose of this series will be to explore the ways in which moral politics and majority rule contradict these fundamental necessities of the State, restricting liberty, causing harm or marginalisation to minorities, and in some cases increasing societal instability. What follows is a call for the reassertion of amoral politics. With morality and personal opinion removed from the equation, such issues may be considered based on rational consideration of objective data, leading to policies which are truly made in the best interest of the State, and with respect for the individual.

We begin with the War on Drugs. The aim here is not to endorse or denounce drug-users; rather, it is to consider whether drugs are a significant enough societal harm to warrant the interference of the State, to examine the dangers the War on Drugs poses to the security and stability of the State, and to argue that if a drug constitutes no significant danger to others, it is not within the State’s domain to interfere with, and is in fact anti-democratic to do so.  (more…)

Untimely Reviews: The Matrix Sequels

Warner Brothers

Warner Bros. 2003

In early 1999 news of the imminent Star Wars prequel dominated the news. People eagerly awaited a badly-needed revitalisation of the stunted sci-fi genre and it seemed like The Phantom Menace was poised to deliver just that. However, at the same time, there was another phantom film teasing its arrival. Short trailers showed bizarre glimpses of people bouncing off of walls, dodging bullets and moving at superhuman speeds; all of this was proceeded by the enticingly enigmatic question: What is the Matrix? It turns out The Matrix was a film that would touch off a revolution in visual effects and how action movies are made, all while telling a compelling story with an eerily plausible premise. The movie drew upon many influences and while the idea of false reality is nothing new, its unique blend of Western-inspired duels, Asian martial arts and blend of Eastern and Western philosophies together with a compelling premise, a likeable band of heroes and a hypnotically captivating antagonist led it to become a box office smash and one of the most beloved sci-fi movies of all time. Then its sequels happened. So what went wrong?

(more…)

Untimely Review: United 93

Universal Pictures / StudioCanal

Universal Pictures / StudioCanal

When discussing any film based on a real-life tragedy – particularly one in living memory – critique needs to be approached from two distinct and yet related angles. Firstly, does the work succeed as a film and secondly, does the work succeed in its portrayal of the events in an honest and respectful fashion? As much as one may try to evaluate these issues separately, they are inextricably linked, at a certain level. It is through realism that a film may successfully engage the audience and provide them with insight. This analysis will attempt to consider both aspects as well as the points at which they intersect. (more…)

Untimely Reviews: Interactivity and Art, Reflections on The Last of Us

last_of_us_ps411

Naughty Dog, 2013.

Are video games art? To so much as utter the question is to summon a legion of fanboys and liberal arts grad students to war. The modern gaming world is full of big budget productions with beautiful aesthetics and astoundingly vast worlds. One can argue back and forward about whether aesthetic beauty in the design of these games is sufficient to qualify them as art, however I am interested in a more limited question: Can video games deliver a narrative experience with enough power or clarity to qualify as art on par with more classic forms of story-telling?

(more…)

Untimely Reviews: The Greatest Moment in Twin Peaks

vlcsnap-2014-06-29-08h41m47s63

In 1990 something happened to television. Thirty-odd years after the surrealist wave of cinema peaked, some-what fringe director David Lynch was given a green light to do a network show, Twin Peaks, which instantly exploded into a pop culture phenomenon, with coffee and cherry pie sales sky rocketing according to statistics I just made up. The at times quirky, at times horrifying glimpse into small-town America – which really can only be described as Lynchian – won over the public with its cast of bizarre characters and nightmarish imagery revolving around the irresistible mystery hook of a seemingly innocent homecoming queen, washed up on a shore, wrapped in plastic. Through the first season and the early second, the writers became expertly adept at using the mystery as a backdrop upon which to hang a rich tapestry of intricately linked and equally compelling story-lines. Every week there seemed to be another shocking connection exposed between denizens of the town as its seedy underbelly was teased out. The star that burns brightest really does shine shortest however and after a mere two seasons the show was cancelled. Nonetheless, the show itself inspired the tone of countless programs to come. But for that brief period in the early 90’s there was only one question on everyone’s mind – Who Killed Laura Palmer?

(more…)

Short Shorts: Kindergarten Cop

Armed-Teacher-Sign-555x414

There has been a lot of debate about the high frequency of school shootings in the United States of late. While some focus on the motives and means of the killers, others take a more pragmatic response to stop the opportunities of potential killers. One particular solution which has been proposed is to arm teachers. Now, one might point out that this solution simply changes the killer’s state of mind from ‘kill fucking everyone’, to ‘kill the teacher first, then kill fucking everyone!’. Valid criticism, perhaps. (more…)